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Georgia Tech Football: How the Yellow Jackets Can Get into the Playoff

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Let's consider a few things. It's December. Georgia Tech will be playing Florida State in the ACC Championship Game on Saturday. Georgia Tech has an outside shot at making the inaugural College Football Playoff. I know this scenario may be unlikely, but I'm extremely excited to even be writing about it at this point. This has been an incredible season for the Yellow Jackets.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Here are the current rankings for the College Football Playoff:

Ranking Last Week Team This Week
1 1 Alabama Crimson Tide #16 Missouri
2 2 Oregon Ducks #7 Arizona
3 5 TCU Horned Frogs Iowa State
4 3 Florida State Seminoles #11 Georgia Tech
5 6 Ohio State Buckeyes #13 Wisconsin
6 7 Baylor Bears #9 Kansas State
7 11 Arizona Wildcats #2 Oregon
8 10 Michigan State Spartans ---
9 12 Kansas State Wildcats #6 Baylor
10 4 Mississippi State Bulldogs ---
11 16 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets #4 Florida State

First off, I do want to comment on these current rankings a little bit. Even though Michigan State and Mississippi State will be irrelevant to Tech making the playoffs because they would almost undoubtedly be jumped with a win on Saturday, it's very frustrating to see them ranked ahead of the Jackets at this point. Michigan State has been ranked high all season despite their best win being against Nebraska. The quality wins for the Spartans are really bad, but the "quality losses" are good. They've been considered a top 10 team most of the season due to losing their two most meaningful games. Mississippi State on the other hand has received credit for their three "quality wins" earlier in the season that now don't seem nearly as impressive. Those three teams - Auburn, LSU, and Texas A&M - now have a combined 13 losses on the season. MSU also had one of the easiest out-of-conference schedules in the nation.

Once again, FSU was downgraded after yet another win. TCU is ranked three spots ahead of Baylor despite having the same record and losing to them earlier in the season. If Baylor were to beat Kansas State on Friday, there should be no reason TCU is ranked ahead of them in the final standings. But I'm just rambling at this point. The committee has certainly made some interesting points with their rankings in the first season.

One ranking that improved the chances of Georgia Tech is Wisconsin moving to #13. Wisconsin is now probably out of the picture and would knock the Big 10 out of the playoff with a win against Ohio State.

Now, let's talk about the chances of Georgia Tech making the playoff. Yes, there may be a chance.

Georgia Tech needs to win convincingly:

If the Yellow Jackets can go out and control Florida State from start to finish, it would give a nice message to the committee about this team. An ugly 21-17 win with sloppy turnovers by both sides may not do the job. A 34-21 should get the point across about what this team is capable of.

Alabama and Oregon need to win:

These two teams are cemented in. A loss by either of them may bring in the discussion of how far they should drop and even bring Missouri into the picture. As far as I'm concerned, both teams should get the job done this weekend and will be ranked first and second for the playoff.

Ohio State needs to lose:

An Ohio State loss would knock the Big 10 out of the playoff picture. Wisconsin is at #13 and wouldn't be able to surpass enough teams to make it in. With J.T. Barrett being out, Wisconsin certainly has a chance to pull off the upset against the Buckeyes' third-string quarterback.

Baylor needs to lose:

This is the trickiest of them all. The Big 12 doesn't have a championship game. With TCU at #3 and playing a terrible Iowa State team, they should be locked in, but some people have said they would be knocked out if FSU and Baylor wins. A Baylor loss to Kansas State would create a very compelling story for who would get in for the Big 12. The best scenario in the Big 12 for Tech would be a miraculous TCU loss to Iowa State. This would put the winner of Kansas State/Baylor in at #3 and Tech would be set for #4 as long as the other scenarios take place. I didn't include the TCU loss because I'm trying to keep a realistic mindset going into the weekend. TCU losing to Iowa State just isn't realistic, while the other scenarios are very possible.

Everything above has to happen for Georgia Tech to have any shot at sneaking in. This would likely cause Georgia Tech to jump Mississippi State (inactive), Michigan State (inactive), Arizona (loss to Oregon), Baylor (loss to Kansas State), Ohio State (loss to Wisconsin), and Florida State (loss to Georgia Tech). The only one I worry about is a one-loss FSU team somehow staying above two-loss Georgia Tech. The committee has shown they don't value head-to-head very much, but I think they would manage to slip ahead because of the ACC Championship.

This would leave. 1. Alabama, 2. Oregon, 3. TCU, 4. Kansas State/Georgia Tech

Comparing the two teams overall shouldn't be very difficult in favor of the Jackets. FEI Ratings have Tech as the #3 team in the nation with wins over the #4 team, #21 team, and hypothetically the #6 team. Kansas State is ranked 25th with wins against the #19 team and hypothetically the #14 team. Kansas State does have the edge with "quality losses." They've lost to #7 and #11, while Tech has lost to #29 and #58. However, I think wins should be much more important when determining the quality of a team. FEI has Tech's strength of schedule at #23, while Kansas State's is at #32. For people who like to use F/+ ratings instead, Georgia Tech is #12 in the nation, while Kansas State is at #18.

But as we know, the committee doesn't seem to be looking at many advanced metrics or sophisticated numbers to measure teams. Heck, they don't even seem to be looking at wins - Florida State. The key could be who looks better this week. All Georgia Tech can do is go out on Saturday night and try to beat the Seminoles by as much as they possibly can. If the rest falls into place, we could be looking at an interesting situation. If it doesn't, Georgia Tech still went out and had an incredible season by exceeding all expectations the team had.

Edit: Apparently the committee has informed the SEC that a Missouri victory would put the SEC out of the playoff. That means that an Alabama loss would be another team that Georgia Tech could potentially jump.

Do you think there's any possible way the Yellow Jackets sneak into the CFP?